Like any art form, rating films is a subjective endeavor. It’s why any awards ceremony will inevitably piss someone off, no matter how safe a winner seems. There are a few films that seem to get universal praise, though. Some of them deserve that praise (The Godfather for instance). Then there are some that are, for whatever reason, lavished with undeserved glory and praise. It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily bad movies, they just aren’t the masterpieces we tell ourselves they are. No, you’re not going to see Avatar, Forrest Gump, Crash, or Frozen here, because none of them are nearly as annoying as the incessant complaining about them. These are the films that legitimately don’t deserve all the unconditional love they get:
Christopher Nolan gets a lot of flak nowadays. In all fairness, the man single-handedly reinvigorated the DC Universe with his Dark Knight Trilogy, and Memento was one hell of a ride. But whatever criticism he gets for Inception is completely justified. The plot is an incoherent mess, it’s void of any and all emotion, and it takes itself way, way too seriously. It’s kind of like sitting through a monotonous lecture by a senile but tenured college professor on a Friday. Nolan repeated this crap in Interstellar, which is also overrated, but nobody really cared as much. Bwaaaaaahhhh.
Instead, watch: The Matrix. Oddly enough, it makes more sense.
2. Gone With the Wind
What’s notable about this one is that it remains on every “Top 5 Best Films of All Time” list and yet no one wants to talk about how mind-numbingly boring and trivial it is. Casablanca, The Wizard Of Oz, and even Citizen Kane all withstood the test of time with compelling stories, likable characters, and relatable themes. Not so much with this period piece of shit. Are we actually still expected to enjoy three hours of tedious drama revolving around a selfish, rich, conniving wench and her smug, rich, douchey boyfriend while an entire nation literally tears itself apart around them? The scenario makes for great setting and tension, but damn does it make it hard to care that Scarlett’s main problem is that she lost her money. Oh the humanity!
Instead, watch: The Sound of Music or Casablanca. Both have that “romance in war” theme. It’s just a lot easier to root against Nazis than it is The Union.
3. Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom was released just after Wes Anderson had finally broken out of his insular “indie” bubble. An insular “indie” bubble that somehow contained Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, and Anjelica Huston. Anyway, moviegoers and critics were eager to jump on the artsy bandwagon as soon as this film opened in theaters, setting Anderson up for Oscar fame. Unfortunately, his mainstream coming-out film happened to be the heaping pile of garbage that is Moonrise Kingdom. Not only was it downright creepy, but Anderson even out-Andersoned himself with ridiculously cartoonish and unrelatable characters. He has since made amends by giving us the excellence that is The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Instead, watch: The Darjeeling Limited. I will never understand why it isn’t considered Wes Anderson’s best film.
4. Annie Hall
I can’t deny some parts of Annie Hall were pretty funny. It has its tender romantic moments as well. But, ultimately, the film quickly devolves into the “Look at me, I’m Woody Allen! Show” and it’s infuriating. Diane Keaton can only do so much to provide a reprieve from Allen’s incessant ranting, and the film ends up feeling like an unending bad stand-up act. It’s not a mystery why: The only person who loves Woody Allen more than movie snobs and misguided underrage girls is Woody Allen. Annie Hall is a love letter that Allen wrote for and sent to himself, and is masterful only in its unabashed narcissism. La-di-da.
Instead, watch: When Harry Met Sally. The defining quirky romcom that actually deserves the praise.
5. Django Unchained
It’s a guarantee (or a bingo) at this point that Quentin Tarantino will go down in history as one of the most revolutionary filmmakers of all time. The list of films that earned him that honor, however, won’t include Django Unchained. It’s his weakest creation by far, and I’m even counting From Dusk till Dawn. Sure, it’s a lot of fun and brings the over-the-top violence we’ve all come to expect from Tarantino. But Django just can’t decide if it wants to be a social critique or a simple revenge flick, so it fails at being decent at either. I enjoy it, but it’s simply too drawn-out and too lackluster to warrant the massive praise it receives when compared to Tarantino’s other films.
Instead, watch: Sukiyaki Western Django. It’s the whacky spaghetti western that Tarantino wanted to do, but someone beat him to it.
Gravity was the film that was expected to blow our minds in 2013. Instead, we ended up just blowing chunks all over the theater floor. The whole movie was the equivalent of a theme park ride: long wait, no plot, but a bunch of cool stuff to look at. Plus the motion sickness. Advancements in visual effects are always welcome, but never at the expense of actual storytelling. Gravity’s story amounted to “Sandra Bullock sucks at being an astronaut and George Clooney will never play a character that isn’t George Clooney. The End.” Also, the whole theme of motherhood and the womb was mercilessly beaten over our heads throughout the entire runtime.. Gravity was many things, but “subtle” was not one of them.
Instead, watch: Aliens. The right way to do a space thriller with a compelling maternal story and theme.
Remember when I said these movies aren’t necessarily bad? This one is. So. Incredibly. Bad. Juno is the hideous result of allowing terrible movies like Napolean Dynamite to run rampant in the early 2000s. As long as the characters and dialogue were eccentric and nonsensical enough for teens to think them endearing, these early hipster flicks were guaranteed hits. Luckily, the trend has mostly died and hopefully Jason Reitman knows to leave the goofy films to the far more capable Wes Anderson from now on. Juno somehow managed to be remembered as some sort of genius work, even getting a nod for Best Picture and a win for Best Original Screenplay. My only explanation is cocaine. Diablo Cody is a cool person, but Juno’s dialogue is pure gibberish, and the script tries way too hard to be cutesy and odd without any substance. The movie also helped launch Michael Cera’s career, for which I will never, ever forgive it.
Instead, watch: Anything. Please, let this movie die.
No, Selma was not a bad film by any means. At its best, though, it still falls short of being the emotional masterpiece it was touted to be. There are heartbreaking, shocking, and beautiful scenes to keep viewers hooked. There just weren’t enough of them to deliver any lasting or overwhelming inspiration. Even David Oyelowo’s incredible performance couldn’t save the film from itself. It drags in parts, doesn’t fully develop its characters, and some of the actors were terrible (Wilkinson and Common, looking at you). Director Ava DuVernay will end up being an Oscar-winning director for sure. All things considered, though, Selma didn’t deserve to be the film to win her that Oscar.
Instead, watch: Malcolm X. A Civil Rights biopic that packs a way more powerful punch.
As kids, we had to sit through hours of boring shit just to get to the sexy parts in Titanic. As adults, it’s all boring shit. Everyone knew what happened to the Titanic when they went to see the film, so they already knew the climax. Director James Cameron’s only task, then, was to make us care about the characters by the time the ship sinks and keep us guessing as to whether or not they’ll survive. Nope! For some reason, Cameron decides to give us the two most one-dimensional people on the entire vessel and basically tells us in the beginning of the film that Jack is not going to make it via old lady stories. Not only is it unnecessary exposition, but it completely removes any and all suspense. Lazy editing, bad writing, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s beginnings as an unbearable over-actor make Titanic a chore to watch.
Instead, watch: Life of Pi. Basically the same film, but I’ll take a CGI tiger over a real Leo any day.
10. The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club turned 30 this year, and it hasn’t aged a day: it’s still the overly dramatic, cliched, preachy, and boring flick it was in 1985. John Hughes (a teenager in the 60s) took overblown high school stereotypes and did absolutely nothing original with them, instead choosing to throw them together and proclaim “Look! We’re all equally lame!” I still can’t purge that embarrassing dance scene from my memory. The awful character development also teaches a terrible lesson: ladies, change who you are for your man. Dudes, remain exactly as you are. Especially if you’re a sociopathic asshole like Judd Nelson’s Bender. No need to fix that character flaw. Thank you, John Hughes.
Instead, watch: Grease. If you really want a mindless, shallow take on old high school film tropes, at least have some fun with it.